Is Alphatec’s customer focus the reason for our success?
As we continue our 25-year celebrations, Brian Boyce one of the founding directors of Alphatec, provides insight to Alphatec’s customer focus.
Question:- Brian, you have been with Alphatec since its inception. What do you remember about the early days of Alphatec, back in 1996?
Answer:- Alphatec was originally set up by Grant Browning to provide support to the cheque clearing industry. Both Grant and I came from a banking background, and I was one of only 8 or so people in the UK who could program the CPCS_UK mainframe software used by many banks to process cheques. In the early days we designed the clearing platform for EDS (the large US outsourcer) and worked with a lot of great people in Milton Keynes to integrate and customise lots of US software to work in UK banking as a cohesive single platform. One of my strongest memories though, oddly, is having to use a reel of telephone cable in the house to connect my computer to the only phone socket in the house to the internet or the mainframe – feeding a cable through the hall, up the stairs and into the room with my computer – clearly in the days before Wi-Fi!!
There was a huge amount of involvement, drive and satisfaction from working on such a complex and critical integration, that we then went on to provide support, solutions, and consultancy, for many years. Eventually, providing support for more than 80% of all cheque clearing in the UK and introducing Business Intelligence into cheque clearing through our Orbit product as far back as 1999 – this was later purchased by Bank of America to run the Business Intelligence on their check clearing.
Question:- How did Alphatec move from consultancy to developing software solutions?
Answer:- Alphatec has always developed software. Originally, this was in the form of mainframe utilities, reconciliation software and batch system design, development, and support for the major banks in the UK and US. This was generally as a part of an overall consultancy and support contract. Our first independent software product was Orbit – our business intelligence solution back in 1999. This same solution is still running in a large US bank to this day.
Alphatec started developing software solutions for the broader financial market around 2003 when the first iteration of ClaimControl was developed. Originally it was a bespoke insurance claims platform designed for a construction company looking to improve efficiency and demonstrate to their insurance company that they were actively managing risk. From here the switch to a software solutions company happened naturally as increasing numbers of organisations began to sign up to our ClaimControl, Timebox and later WASP solutions and usage / volumes of cheques began to decline. The management buyout in 2013 marked our total focus on becoming a Software as a Service Software Company. However, I maintain that our background as a support organisation has been a key factor in our success as we have retained that customer focus.
Question:- What achievement are you most proud of?
Answer:- There are two achievements that spring to mind immediately. The first was ClaimControl winning the Strategic Risk magazines best Risk Product in Europe. This was hugely satisfying as it represented independent recognition of all the work and effort, we had put in to building a solution that was clearly valuable to those that use it. The fact that experts from throughout Europe recognised ClaimControl as the best solution for managing incidents, claims and insurance risk management showed that we were creating a product that was customer focussed meeting the needs and aspirations of our customers.
The second achievement is a more technical one where I built an automated financial adjustment matching program to sit inside of the main cheque clearing platform that reduced adjustments (claims that had to be researched by another name) by matching across strings. Strings had until that point been viewed worldwide as completely atomic and immutable whereas with my solution, they were able to reduce adjustments by more than 25% which resulted in huge time and resource costs.
Question:- How have technological advancements enabled Alphatec to provide first-class solutions to our customers?
Answer:- Alphatec has always focussed on how we can make our software even more useful to our customers. The technologies are just tools that allow us to implement these benefits. It is the benefits that are important, and new technology can sometimes enable benefits that weren’t previously possible. For example, Business Intelligence makes free-flowing analysis and reporting something that can easily and quickly be done by anyone (removing the reliance on report writers or IT) and puts the information at the fingertips of those who really understand its meaning in relation to the business operations.
Part of the reason all Alphatec’s products are software as a service, is to allow Alphatec to capitalise on the use of modern technology and maximise the power of our solutions while simultaneously making them easier to use. We see this as a huge advantage for our clients, as we can remove the technical complexity while ensuring the solutions keep evolving, with new features and new capabilities. It is also important that we have open dialogue to allow our clients to communicate what is important to them and where possible we will always try to incorporate customer suggestions into new releases.
Question:- What are Alphatec’s key strength/USP? Or what makes Alphatec stand out from its competitors?
Answer:- For me, Alphatec’s key strength/USP is customer focus. I believe this is because the core management team came from the position of being a support organisation and still see our success as being our client’s success. What I mean by that is that if our focus is on delivering the best for our clients and helping them be successful then not only will we grow as a business through sales, our reputation and our client retention will mean that our future is assured. I take great pride in being able to say that you can talk to any one of our clients and they will tell you a similar story of how pro-active Alphatec are in supporting them. We value the input clients bring to our products and often consult them on various aspects of new releases and new features to make sure that what we are building will be valuable to them.
Question:- What will Alphatec look to work on and improve on in the next few years?
Answer:- The rate of change in technology is incredible. This will lead to new opportunities and new ways that Alphatec can incorporate technology to bring new capabilities and efficiencies to our clients. We have exciting plans for Avers, ClaimControl, Timebox and WASP which we know are going to help our clients, and will in fact bring new capabilities and advancements to sectors that are only just starting to work with Alphatec. We realise the potential that a partnership with us brings. If you would like to know more about what we have planned, then please get in touch or keep an eye out for our regular webinars. These webinars give clients and prospective clients a sneak-peak at upcoming features and products, offering them the chance to not only have an insight into what’s coming, but also allow them to give early feedback or refinements and enhancements that make it better for everyone. This again goes back to that idea of support and partnership, we work for our clients but also with our clients, and I see this as something that is often spoken about but rarely practiced. I take great pride in the way that we work with our clients, and if anyone reading this isn’t yet a client of ours please do get in touch. I would love to understand more about what you do and discuss how we can work together.
Question:- Where do you see Alphatec in another 25 years?
Answer:- 25 years is a long time and while I may not be still working at Alphatec, who knows my son Aidan (who many of you will have spoken to on the support team) may well be. What I do know, is Alphatec will continue to have that customer focussed ethos and continue to create advantage for our customers through leveraging advancements in technology; allowing us all to grow from strength to strength.
You can find out more about Alphatec’s history, products, and read case studies and news stories by exploring our website www.alphatec.net